Heidi April 25th, 2008
That’s what people usually say when I tell them I was a speech-language pathologist (SLP) at an elementary and middle school before Bubbers was born.
“Oh, you know,” I try to clarify, “I did speech and language therapy with kids.”
“Oh!” the light goes on and they suddenly start to nod with understanding, “So, you would help someone who stutters.”
“That’s right!” I smile.
Then they pause for a minute and ask, “How did you get interested in that?”
“Weeeell,” I answer, “There are a lot of reasons, but mainly because I love English, science, helping people and children. So, this is the perfect combination of them all!”
“What ages do you work with?”
“I’m trained to work with people from birth to geriatric,” I explain, “But I prefer to work with children. When I worked for a school district, I had a caseload of preschoolers up to 8th graders–so they were three years to 14 years old.”
“Wow–that’s quite the range!” they respond, “So, how did you get to be an SLP?”
“I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech-language pathology,” I explain, “And then I got my national certification by passing a big test and working under the supervision of a certified SLP.”
“Ah,” they reply, “So why did you work for a school district? You could have worked in hospitals, clinics or private practice–why schools?”
“I love schools,” I answer fondly, “Especially elementary schools. I can’t walk through an elementary school without beaming!”
Then they hesitate for a moment and finally ask, “So, what are you going to do now that you’re a mom?”
“I’m not going to work,” I answer firmly, “but I’ll maintain my certification so if I ever need or want to work again, I can.”
“You could just work part-time for schools or have a few clients at your house,” they suggest.
“That’s true,” I agree, “And I’ve set it up so I can do that if I need to, but at this point, I’m very happy not working.”
“But don’t you miss it?” they persist.
That’s when I pause and smile to myself.
“I miss the children,” I answer softly.
And then I continue, “But you know what? Speech-language pathology is so much a part of me that it will never be gone. I think of it every day as I teach my son and it influences every interaction I have with children. It’s so ingrained in me that if you asked me about it and I could answer like I was doing therapy just yesterday.”
“But that’s just how I am,” I shrug, “I love the field. And I’ll always love the field.”